People who lack adequate levels of vitamin D can suffer grave consequences to their health; we highlight the warning signs and effective treatments
Why is vitamin D necessary?
Vitamin D performs a multitude of valuable functions in the body. It reduces inflammation, promotes cell growth, improves calcium absorption and maintains calcium and phosphate levels in the body.
What causes vitamin D deficiency?
Some of the main causes for vitamin D deficiency include:
- Little exposure to sunlight
- A diet lacking in vitamin D
- Pregnancy or breastfeeding
- Old age
- Obesity and weight issues
- Dark skin tones (skin with a higher concentration of melanin has more difficulty converting sunlight into vitamin D)
- Conditions that undermine the ability to absorb vitamin D such as Crohn’s or coeliac disease
- Chronic kidney or liver disease
What are the complications?
Without enough vitamin D in the body, individuals can experience severe pains and weakness in their bones and muscles. On a larger scale, lack of vitamin D can lead to more serious complications. Many vitamin D-deficient patients suffer from impaired immune system function, which can leave them vulnerable to harmful infections. Rickets is another condition that is commonly associated with low vitamin D levels—it involves bones softening and is often diagnosed in children. Vitamin D deficiency can also cause subjects to develop a resistance to insulin, which in turn can negatively impact the processing of blood sugar.
Treating this deficiency is relatively straightforward; the goal is to replenish vitamin D levels efficiently. This can be done through diet or by taking supplements. Food sources that are rich in vitamin D include red meat, liver, egg yolks, oily fish (such as sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna) and fortified foods (specific spreads, cereals and milks). In terms of supplements, adults may opt for daily vitamin D capsules while children may take more suitable vitamin drops. If the symptoms of your deficiency are severe, you may wish to seek medical help. Your doctor can work on an appropriate treatment regimen designed just for you.